The Altru Family YMCA is launching the Community Garden Group again this year to help educate and involve residents in growing produce in the Grand Cities.

The group is an example of the Y’s commitment to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle by reconnecting people to food they can grow and eat, said Adam Sorum, the YMCA’s healthy living director and garden coordinator. Donna Stumphf is the head gardener.

In the past, members have grown thousands of pounds of produce for donation to food banks.

Community Garden Group members will assist with planting, weeding, watering and harvesting the vegetables from the garden, Sorum said.

“It’s never too late to join. We’ll need help all summer,” he said. “The majority of planting will be done in the next week, but we’ll need help with weeding, watering and harvesting all summer long.”

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This year, the group is planting gardens at the South 42nd Street, All Seasons’ site in Grand Forks, and a location near River Road, one mile past the golf course, in East Grand Forks, he said.

“There will be set days and times when we will work every week planting, weeding and watering the garden,” Sorum said. Members will be able to help during these times as well.

It is free to work in the garden, but for those who “would like to receive produce directly from the garden, we do have a sign up fee of $30 for individuals, $45 for couples, or $60 for families,” Sorum said. Membership in the YMCA is not required to participate.

The Community Garden Group, which was launched in 2019, has made a significant impact on the amount of food available for those in need.

“Last year we partnered with the Salvation Army, local food shelves, and the Great Plains Food Bank, and were able to grow 5,000 pounds of vegetables,” Sorum said.

The group also helped to distribute 15,000 pounds of food to the local community, totaling 18,000 meals, he said.

Sorum encourages anyone who’s interested to join this effort.

“(They will be) getting outside, growing some healthy food, and helping our community,” he said. “We are always looking for volunteers and, with COVID, help has been hard to find.”

The cooking demonstrations, which have been a continuing feature in the Community Garden Group’s activities, will start in mid-June, he said.

For more information, go to www.gfymca.org or contact Sorum at the YMCA, 701-775-2586 or email asorum@gfymca.org. The Y is located at 215 N. Seventh St.